Snow 1 – Me 0

Well, the bad weather continues here in Southport, making it pretty hard for those of us who get our exercise in the great outdoors.

Even so, for the third time this year, I today headed for the beach, there to plough through the ‘gritted by God’ safety of the sand dunes before turning around and heading back along the beach.

On the way there, I drove past several brave souls pounding the pavements, albeit fairly gingerly, and thought that they must all be quite, quite mad, to risk running on such icy streets.

And then I got to the beach, which, as you can see, is still covered by several inches of snow, with intermittent ice patches, and after a brief warmup, headed into the sand dunes.

Well, I’d gone no more than 100 yards when I hit a huge patch of ice that was obscured by snow and rabbit poo, resulting in me cartwheeling through the air and landing  with an appalling crack, which, being a bloke, I naturally assumed to be at the very least a fractured skull.

(Visually, if you saw the scene in the last Transformers movie where Optimus Prime finally crashes to earth from about 2 miles up, you can pretty much regard yourself as an eye witness to my little mishap today.)

As I lay there trying to catch a breath and working on my epitaph, an old dear who I had passed 20 seconds earlier came scurrying through the dunes, having heard me hitting the ground  from around 50 yards away. Naturally, she was quite concerned, but quickly realised that the awful cracking sound we had both heard was me shattering a 2 inch-thick plate of ice with my ribcage.

“Are you alright my dear?” she enquired sympathetically. I have to say, I felt such a burke, having managed to come to grief on essentially the safest running track on earth. All I could think of to say was the oft-quoted (but in this case true) Paul Simon line: “It’s OK, I’ve had first aid. Your dog licked me while I was on the ground…”

Not great, I admit, but the best I could do under the circumstances. And so, to all you fellow runners who are still risking life and limb in the current icy conditions, I have two small suggestions to make:

1. Don’t assume that just because you’re on a beach, there won’t be ice lurking somewhere.

2. Make sure you’re better prepared than I was and at least have a funny line ready for the ambulance crew.

FOOTNOTE: I was fine by the way. Nothing broken. Ran the last five miles quite slowly though. Thanks for asking…

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The Nike+ is not a star on ice.

nikepouchHaving praised the Nike+ iPod gadget to the skies a couple of days ago, for its accuracy, its user-friendliness and, heck, just for its all round wonderfulness, I today discovered that it is not a star on ice.

You see, the North of England, where I currently reside, is in the grip of a terrifying cold spell sent by arctic demons with a view to destroying our economy and disrupting our whole way of life. Which, in terms of the British weather, means that the temperature is down as low as -9 degrees at night, causing something of a frost in the morning. A frost that is now lasting most of the day, in places where the sun doesn’t shine, if you’ll pardon the expression.

Now, I know all about the ice storms in North America, blizzards in Siberia and Avalanches in the alps. But look, those guys expect extreme weather and are fairly well-prepared for it. In the UK, our entire transport infrastructure can be brought to a shuddering halt by 2 inches of snow…

So anyway, if you’re British, we’re at the dawn of a new Ice Age. And if you’re reading this from outside the UK, it’s a little bit icy out there. Which brings me to the big cold-weather failing of the otherwise fairly splendid Nike+ unit.

You see, the Nike+ calibrates itself by asking you to run exactly 400m and then telling it when you’re done. In this way, it measures your average stride length. And so, particularly if you’ve performed this calibration after running a couple of miles, and are therefore taking your normal strides, rather  than the long strides of a fresh runner or the tiny strides of someone at the end of a marathon, then the unit is going to be pretty accurate in normal use.

But then, when you go out for a run on icy streets, you will inevitably take smaller strides in an attempt not to fall over, and your six mile run will suddenly become 6.7 miles, according to the Nike+ unit, thus messing up all of the figures on your otherwise accurate Nike+ web page.

Obviously, running on ice is a reasonably rare occurrence. Even so, it possibly suggests that Nike could profitably give some thought to allowing users to rectify inaccurate mileages on the website; which would make the whole Nike+ concept even better than it already is, and by some distance.